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Matthew 25:14-25:30
Key Verse: 25:16

In the previous passage we learned that we should keep watch for the coming of our bridegroom, that is, to keep our loving heart for him pure and alive, preparing extra oil every day. In today’s passage Jesus compares his coming to the master’s returning to his servants. He continually teaches how we should prepare for his coming.

Look at verse 14. “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.” The kingdom of heaven was incessantly on Jesus’ mind, as he reiterated his coming again. Here Jesus reveals more about the characteristics of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is related to one’s freedom and responsibility. Look at verse 15. “To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability.” At a glance people may question why the master was unfair in giving the money to his servants. Why did he not give them the same amount of money equally? But what the master did shows that he knew each servant personally. He recognized each one’s difference and wanted each servant to do his best, working to his fullest. Then let’s think about each worker.

First , the man with five talents. Look at verse 16. “The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.” The servant’s attitude was so beautiful! He did not think that he had received a lot and so did not need to work. He did not think that although others worked hard, they would not have more than he had. No such a thought to him. He was not proud of his ability nor that he had received the biggest amount from the master.. Nor was he complacent about his superior human condition. As soon as he had received the five talents from his master, he went and put his money to work and gained five more.

Here talents can be compared to all God’s given blessings, internal and external: life-time, health, intellectuality, spirituality, family background, social environment, national setting, etc. God gave such things to all human beings so that they might work hard and gain profits to his glory and for others. In short, in a sense life is given to work and bear fruit. This is true even in the Garden of Eden. God put the man there to work it and take care of it. Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity (making the best use of the time), because the days are evil.” Life is an investment, and our investment is to be profitable to the maximum in God’s sight.

Jesus said in Luke 12:48 says, “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” There are two kinds of people among those who have received much. One kind live a wonderful life with the much they had received; another kind, a terrible life because of the much (or the abundance?). David was one who received from God so much. He seemed to be talented in every aspect of life. Although his human condition was that he was a mere shepherd boy, he was faithful to the shepherding job. And when he lived in the fear of God and developed all God’s talents, he became a valiant solider, musician, poet and finally a king after God’s own heart. He did not abuse the talents he had received from God at all. He was not proud or complacent because of the blessings of God. He bore the blessings in the fear of the Lord and made the most of his life to the glory of God. Solomon also received a lot from God. God gave him wisdom, so much wisdom that he was wiser than any other man. God also gave him riches and honour. But when his heart was not fully devoted to God and gradually lost the fear of the Lord, his life became downtrodden His corruption was beyond our understanding. He not only lived a miserable life, but also his life became the cause of the division of the nation Israel. No one could really admire his life in the end.

There are so many people who ruin their lives because of their many talents. Among those who are smart, many do not study hard because of their given talent of smartness. When they are not disciplined in studying in their youth, later on life is hard to them. And those who are from rich families are apt to be spoiled. We should know that more talents mean more work and more earnings.

What happened to the man who had received the five talents. Look at verse 19. “After a long time, the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.” In the kingdom of heaven the account with each person is to be settled. Look at verse 20. “The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.” What a pleasant report! How did the master respond? Look at verse 21. “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your mater’s happiness!” There are double exclamation marks. The master was so pleased with the servant, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant! The master wanted to give him much more and share his happiness with him. What a reward! Here we learn that the ultimate purpose of our work is to please our master and share his happiness.

Second, the man with two talents. Look at verse 17. “So also the one with the two talents gained two more.” This man also showed his beautiful attitude. He did not compare his two talents with five talents of his fallow servant and feel inferior. He did not fall into a bitter feeling, thinking, “Why my master gave me only two talents, while he gave that guy five talents?” Rather, when he received the two talents, he must have believed that was the expression of his mater’s love and trust. He considered what he had received precious and worked hard and gained two more. He also made 100% profit. This demonstrates that he did his best, and was thankful and satisfied with the talents he received.

This kind can be the people who work behind the scenes. In the first part we thought about David, who became an exemplary king of Israel. But we know that there was Jonathan behind him. As the prince son of king Saul, it was not easy at all for Jonathan to side with David and support him to be the king of Israel. Yet Jonathan did so, protecting David from many life-threatening dangers because he knew what God’s will was. David acknowledged Jonathan’s loving support. So when he heard of Jonathan’s death, he lamented, saying, “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women” (2 Sam 1:26). Indeed Jonathan’s life was another beautiful one before God. Abraham was a spiritual giant as a pioneer in God’s redemptive history. From Jacob twelve tribes of Israel came. Jacob was an expander of God’s history. Yet, we cannot ignore Isaac, who was the bridge between the two. Isaac’s character was quiet and his life did not seem to be exciting, but he was an indispensible person in God’s redemptive history. In the Bible God says clearly, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

This parable of the talents is written in Matthew’s gospel only. In Luke’s gospel there is a similar kind of the parable, the parable of the ten minas, where the master gave ten minas to ten of his servants. It is interesting that Matthew wrote this different parable of talents, distinguishing three different servants according to the talents they received. In my understanding, Matthew must have moved so much by the servant who received two talents and gained two more. When we think about the twelve disciples of Jesus, there was a clear distinction among the disciples, although Jesus loved each of them equally. The first tier of the disciples consisted of Peter, James, John and Andrew. Matthew was in the second tier of disciples. And after the gospel story, the lives of Peter, John ad James are written in Acts, but there is no further description of Matthew’s life after the gospel story; even in the gospel his story is very short. He was a kind of behind-the-scenes disciple. But Matthew must have not minded at all. He knew he had a clear calling from Jesus, “Follow me” and followed him wholeheartedly and learned of him so much that he wrote the gospel of Matthew. His influence in human history is tremendous. His life is truly a beautiful one in the sight of God. Now the 2012 Euro-Cup is going on. Those who make goals seem to appear to be super stars. But without assistants there would be no goal-making. People can fail to see behind-the-scene people but God never fails to see them.

Then let’s see the servant’s report and his master’s response. Look at verse 22. “The man with two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.” We can sense his joy in his reporting, the same kind of joy the first servant had. His report was the same as that of the first reporter. He did not say, “Sorry, Master. I could not make five more as that servant did.” No. He was absolutely happy with what he had earned, two talents. Then, how did the master respond, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” The master’s praise for him was exactly the same as the praise for the man who had gained five more. This man’s report and his master’s response show that the servant’s purpose of work was to please his mater very personally and he accomplished it to the acknowledgment of his master.

Third, a man with one talent. Lastly, let’s think about the man with one talent. Look at verse 18. “But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.” Why did he do this? At this point we do not know exactly. Then what did he say when he reported to his master? Look verse 24. “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’” He made a longest report. Still, it is not easy for us to figure out his problem. It seemed that he spent much time analyzing his master, figured out what kind of person he was, and then became afraid of him. This servant was afraid that he went out and hid the talent in the ground. At least he did not lose his money. He said, “See, here is what belongs to you.” He seemed to be a very thoughtful and cautious man. If so, that’s not bad. Still, it’s difficult for us to guess at this servant’s fundamental problem.

Then what did his master say? Look at verse 26. “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.’” As the man made a longest report, the master also gave him a longest account. In his account, the master pinpointed his problem. His problem seemed to be complicated. But it was not. His problem was very simple. It was his laziness. That’s wickedness. Bible condemns the sin of laziness severely. Laziness can be one of the major problems of mankind. He did not work simply because he was lazy.

Proverbs 19:24 says, “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth!” 26:15 says, “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.” Proverbs 12:27, “The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions.” 6:9 says, “How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?” 26:14 says, “As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed.” 10:4 says, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” 12:24 says, “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labour.” 20:4 says, “A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.” 13:4 says, “The sluggard carves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” 21:25 says, “The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.” 22:13 says, “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside!’ or, ‘I will be murdered in the streets!’” 26:13 says, “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!’” Finally 26:16 says, “The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly.” Laziness persists in one’s life.

Nowadays, people’s greeting is, “take it easy.” Laziness crept into the mentality of many young people. Laziness is a serious problem to them. Sinners do not want to work hard. They want to take it easy and just enjoy life in laziness. Each of us should fight against the lazy nature in us.

Then what is the end of the lazy servant? The master was very strict to him. Look at verse 28. “Take the talent from him and gave it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Laziness is a dreadful sin before God.

In this passage Jesus told the parable of the tenants in order to teach his people how they should wait for his returning as our Master. May we recognize the talents he has given us and put the money to work with humbles, thanks, diligence and hardworking fighting against our lazy nature so that our life may produce much profit to please our master who is coming soon.

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